101 Seminars

What is History 101?

The History 101 seminar is designed to guide you through the capstone experience of your undergraduate education as a history major: the researching and writing of your senior thesis. Successful completion of this challenging but rewarding endeavor requires you to do the work of a historian. Ultimately, this translates to producing a piece of scholarship—in this case, a 25-30 page final paper—in which you articulate and defend a historical interpretation/argument rooted in extensive primary source research, informed by thorough secondary source reading. See preparation guidelines below. Click on "Senior Thesis" to the right for full instructions on the History senior thesis. 


Fall 2021 Registration

If you would like to take History 101 this fall, for the best chance at your first choice of seminar please fill out this online form by 10am on Friday, 4/30: History 101 Registration Form

PLEASE NOTE: Make sure you're logged into your Berkeley.edu account to access this form.

Please indicate your top three choices, and include a short explanation of why your top choice makes the most sense to you. If you have a serious scheduling issue, please mention it. We really want to be certain that every 101 student is in the best possible section. If you miss the deadline, please email Leah when you realize you have missed it. You will still have a spot in a 101, just possibly not your first choice.

We will place you into your 101 section during the week of May 3rd. You will not be able to enroll in the class yourself. When you are added we will attempt to override your units, and any time conflict, but please be aware that you need to resolve any real time conflicts that exist. 101 classes may not meet at every scheduled session, but you must be available at these posted times.


Fall 2021 Course Descriptions

Here are the instructors, schedules, and descriptions for the Fall 2021 101 courses. 

101.001: U.S. Topics

Waldo Martin
M/W 2-4pm
Class #21695

This seminar will guide students through the process of completing a senior thesis in a topic in US History. Our focus will be the research and writing process, ranging from the feasibility of research topics, historiography, methodology, and analysis. Students should contact the professor in advance of the seminar to discuss possible topics and, if possible, research questions.


101.003 Writer's Group

Christine Philliou
MW 12–1pm
Class #30303

This section is designed for seniors with well-conceived thesis projects on non-U.S. topics. Members of the group will observe a common schedule in developing, drafting, and critiquing material but will not share a common subject area.

Admission requires a written statement and the consent of the instructor. The statement should include: 1) a 250 word description of the proposed thesis topic including preliminary  research questions; 2) a preliminary annotated bibliography (with full citations) of suitable primary sources; 3) a short (half page) bibliography of secondary sources; 4) a list of previous coursework in the proposed field of research; and 5) the name of a departmental instructor in that field who is willing to help mentor the student by providing bibliographical guidance, occasional consultation, and a critique of the first draft of the thesis. Students apply by submitting the online preference form, and must also submit their statements directly to Professor Philliou at philliou@berkeley.edu no later than Friday August 13th. Although most applicants will not have had time to develop rigorous statements by this deadline, they must demonstrate the viability of their projects and their commitment to serious preparation in advance of the course.


Preparation Guidelines

  1. Identify/describe a topic you would like to investigate for your 101 (thesis). Your topic should be narrowly focused, something that you can examine thoroughly, rather than superficially. As a general rule, it is always better to cast your research net deep instead of wide, to cover less in order to uncover more. Your initial topic description should be informed by a preliminary investigation into both primary and secondary sources (see #3 and #4 below) in order to demonstrate how they address and inform the topic you've chosen. This will help establish your topic's feasibility and viability for your thesis. In other words for #1 to mean anything, you'll need to be sure to do #3 and #4.

  2. Spell out a question (or two or three) about your chosen topic that you would like to answer in your your thesis. Your question(s) must be evaluative, i.e., of the "how" / "why" variety, and not normative, i.e., of the "should" or "ought" variety. Evaluative questions require you to take and defend a position, to advance a thesis claim (i.e., interpretation / argument), in response to them.

  3. Conduct the research necessary to (a) identify a primary source base or primary source bases and then (b) begin conducting preliminary research into those primary sources. Ultimately, your final paper will depend on having a rich array of primary sources available to address the research question(s) you pose (#2) for your topic (#1). Many good research questions simply cannot be answered because they lack primary sources. Consequently, it's essential that you choose a research topic and question(s) that has a wealth of available and accessible primary sources. Ultimately, the strength of your thesis will be a function of the persuasiveness/forcefulness of the thesis claim you advance in your final 101 in light of the narrowly-focused thoroughness of the predominantly primary evidence you marshal to support your thesis claim.

  4. Familiarize yourself with some of the historiography (secondary) sources about your chosen topic, including the interpretations they advance and primary sources they employ.